Happy Halloween

Another year of watching too many horror movies!


Spooky season is, obviously, the best season, and if you don’t know this about me already I watch altogether too many horror movies, just a flabbergasting number, all the time, and the last few years of pandemic have been occasion for some truly absurd levels of movie consumption here at our place.

You probably are already utterly inundated with horror movie recommendations, but all of them are from chumps probably telling you to watch bad movies! Not me. I’m gonna tell you only good ones. Here are the spooky number thirteen best horror movies I watched for the first time in the last year, since last last Halloween.

  1. Just Before Dawn USA, 1981. Jeff Lieberman

1981 was one of the best years for horror movies ever (unmatched until 2018 by pure volume of excellent movies), but this total despair slasher is unfairly forgotten. I wrote a mini-essay about it after watching it, reflecting on how it’s kind of the ur-text for the entire slasher sub-genre.

  1. Bones 2001, USA. Dir. Ernest R. Dickerson

This movie is famous for starring an urban legend 70s gangster Snoop Dogg, and rightly so, but it’s also just a pitch-perfect mix of comedy, fantasy, drama and horror (it’s genuinely scary and gross!). Ernest R. Dickerson doesn’t get enough respect as one of the best directors of his era., and I think we can all guess the reasons for that.

  1. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair 2021, USA. Dir. Jane Schoenbrun

The feature debut of trans director Jane Schoenbrun, this found-footage movie about isolation, alienation, and the possibility of connection and care across scary digital divides got a ton of festival buzz and attention when it came out this spring, but I think people outside movie circles didn’t see it, which is a shame, because it’s scary, beautifully acted and shot and deeply moving.

  1. The Bloodettes 2005, Cameroon. Dir. Jean-Pierre Bekolo

Strange, stylish sci-fi vampire flick (and the first horror film produced in Cameroon), this movie about two sex worker vampires traversing an unnamed near-future African capital murdering politicians to start an insurrection is a real vibe piece, with a few absolutely gorgeous shots and locations, as well as a work of really cool protest cinema.

  1. Let’s Scare Jessica To Death 1971, USA. Dir. John D. Hancock

One of the best “is she crazy or is she experiencing actual supernatural events” numbers from the decade that really perfected that. Pure vibes, total sinister evil New England nightmare as the dream of the 60s gives way to the despair of the long reaction. If you don’t know already, end-of-the-sixties is one of my favorite kinds of movies.

  1. Barbarian 2022, USA. Dir Zach Cregger

Surprise delight! Went into this one with low expectations but came out singing its praises! Weird and surreal, go in knowing as little as possible to have the most fun with this twisty campy anti-gentrification feminist (yes really) horror number.

  1. Nope 2022, USA. Dir. Jordan Peele

It’s official, it’s undeniable. With this movie Jordan Peele is officially one of the horror greats, even if he never makes a great film again. Very very few horror directors have 3 movie runs as good as Get Out—Us—Nope (Carpenter from The Fog to The Thing, Romero from Dawn of the Dead to Day of the Dead, Hooper from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Poltergeist—you get the idea). Great movie about movie making, and features one of the scariest scenes I’ve seen in theaters in years.

  1. Tetsuo the Iron Man 1989, Japan. Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto

These days I’m not scared of movies very often, but I’ve been terrified of this one for a while, and I watched it at one point when I needed to get my courage up for other scarier things IRL. While I think Tsukamoto’s later film Kotoko is maybe better (and also one of the most upsetting movies I’ve ever seen) this one deserves its status as a legendary favorite of gore-hounds and weirdo art-house horror fans alike. Not for the faint of heart!

  1. Wild Zero 1999, Japan. Dir. Testuro Takeuchi

Guitar Wolf said trans rights! Rock and roll zombie apocalypse BABY! LETS GO! (can’t believe I hadn’t seen this movie when I was a fan of the band in the early 2000s, this movie would’ve been one of my favorites and probably would’ve helped me trans earlier lol)

  1. Alucarda 1977, Mexico. Dir. Juan Lopez Moctezuma

Satanic lesbian vampirism? Lush full saturated colors? Absurd obscene weird surreal horror? The apocalyptic fantasy of the catholic world? This movie is a fucking vibe!

  1. Death Game 1977, USA. Dir. Peter S. Traynor

I think this director thought he was doing a misogyny, but actually he ended up making one of the best films about high-femme sexy sapphic chaos ever! It’s not often you get to compare a sleazy low budget home invasion movie to Czech New Wave Classic Daisies or Nouvelle Vague epic Celine and Julie Go Boating, but there it is. (Saw this in glorious 35 at last year’s Exhumed Films 24-Hour Horrorthon)

  1. Peeping Tom 1960, UK. Dir. Michael Powell

This proto-slasher is such a seminal text in horror studies literature that I’d read about it more than a dozen times, and so didn’t feel compelled to see it—how delightful that a gorgeous print opened up this year’s Exhumed Films 24-Hour Horrorthon (which took place before Halloween this time)! Sometimes things are classics for a reason.

  1. Occult Bolshevism 2018, Japan. Hiroshi Takahashi

Not gonna lie, I watched this movie completely and utterly because of its title, but umm…its kind of one of the most incredible movies I’ve seen? It’s a tiny-budget, absolutely terrifying one location ghost movie that also functions as a hilarious and erudite critique of the devolution of Leninist party-form politics into Stalinism. Sometimes you really vibe with a movie, but then sometimes a movie feels like it was explicitly made only for you.

Honorable Mentions: Obscure and/or small budget movies very few people saw that just didn’t quite make the list, but you should definitely check out.

The Wolf House (2020, Chile); Hunter Hunter (2020, USA); Sole Survivor (1984, USA); Death Trip (2021, Canada), The Curse AKA The Farm (1987, USA)

Happy Haunting!